A wonderful byproduct of leaving America is gaining a renewed appreciation for our country. When frustrated by overwrought bureaucracies overseas, I'm thankful that it's not a daily part of my life back home. When exasperated by population density, I return home grateful to live in a sparsely populated corner of the world. Traveling, I sample different tempos, schedules, seasoning, business environments, and political systems. Some I like better — others I'm glad don't follow me home.
When I return home from any trip, I realize that I am a part of the terroir of my home turf, just as the people who so charm me in distant corners of the world are part of theirs. Those people might visit me here, find it interesting, incorporate a few slices of my lifestyle into theirs, and be just as thankful to fly home. While seeing travel as a political act enables us to challenge our society to do better, it also shows us how much we have to be grateful for, to take responsibility for, and to protect.
In addition to gaining a keen appreciation of how blessed we are, travelers also understand that with these blessings come responsibilities. Protecting the poor, civil rights, and our environment are basic to good global citizenship. Travelers experience lands that have a wide gap between rich and poor, places without basic freedoms an American might take for granted, and regions where neglect has led to ruined environments. Packing that experience home, we can become more compassionate, even (or especially) during difficult times. Because we've seen the extremes, we can better understand the consequences of continued neglect in our own community.
About This Entry
You are reading "Travel Changes You", an entry posted on 23 April 2010 by Rick Steves.